Iran’s ballots have been counted, its celebrations have died down, and the concessions and valedictory remarks have been exchanged. And so naturally, it’s time for the pundits to chime in on what the unexpected election will mean for Iran and the primary issues that provoke concern among international policy makers, including Syria and the nuclear program. Here’s a quick (and surely incomplete) round-up of some of the most interesting analyses making the rounds over the past few days.
- The New York Times offers an array of perspectives from scholars and analysts of Iran, including Haleh Esfandiari, Camelia Entekhabifard, Ray Takeyh, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Meyrav and David Wurmser, and Janet Afary and Roger Friedland in “Hopes for Change on Iran.”
- Sohrab Ahmari wrote yesterday about Rouhani’s role in the regime’s crackdown against students protesting a repressive new press law in July 1999 in an article entitled “Behind Iran’s ‘Moderate’ New Leader,” in The Wall Street Journal.
- Shaul Bakhash, the Clarence Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University, explains “What Rouhani Victory Means for Iran,” on the U.S. Institute of Peace Iran Primer blog, describing the election “a reaffirmation by a majority of Iranians of the desire for a more moderate, more sensible course in both domestic and foreign policy.”
- Farideh Farhi notes that “this may still be the most important election in the Islamic Republic’s history, because it has reminded people that it is after all possible to express popular opinion through elections” in her London Review of Books‘ essay “Why Rohani?”
- Iranwire has a ton of great analysis in both English and Persian, in particular Eskander Sadeghi-Boroujerdi’s piece “Iran’s New President: Consummate Insider,” and Ali Zanjani’s “With An Imploding Economy, Too Early to Celebrate.”
- Mehdi Khalaji answers his own headline in the affirmative in a well-argued oped in The Washington Post on Monday that queried “Did Sanctions Shape The Iranian Election?”
- Author Hooman Majd suggests that “Rowhani’s influence will be felt, and it will doubtlessly bring a more nuanced policy to the fore,” in his New York Times oped, “In Iran, Hints of Hope and Change.”
- Omid Memarian, a well-known Iranian analyst and activist, argues that Rouhani’s election demonstrates the regime’s “failure to sell its hardliner policies” and encourages Washington “should not miss another chance to take the side of millions of Iranians who said ‘No’ to their leaders’ belligerent policies by signaling that Washington has heard Iranian people throughout the country” in “Hassan Rouhani: Moderate Candidate Wins Election,” on The Daily Beast.
- On Foreign Policy, author and academic Vali Nasr contends that Rouhani will face tough challenges at home in implementing his campaign agenda, and makes the case for a forward-leaning U.S. approach in “Regime Change Obama Can Believe In.”
- Paul Pillar sees the election as an opportunity for diplomacy in “The Iranian People Challenge the West,” onThe National Interest.
- Iran Review offers a visual take on the elections, with a vivid array of photos from the celebrations that took place across Iran in response to the announcement of Rouhani’s victory.
From the halls of the Saban Center and the Brookings Institution:
- Martin Indyk, Vice President of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution and a former senior Clinton Administration official, argues in The Financial Times that the “West Must Temper Its Enthusiasm For Iran’s New President.” Martin makes a number of important points, including a reminder that prior American efforts to leverage differences within Iran’s political establishment have run aground because of political sensitivities within Iran. He also highlights the reasons why the outcome works to the benefit of the regime and its hardliners:
“But Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains very much in command. Indeed, this election may have solidified his reign: rather than protesting against him as they did in such massive numbers four years ago, the people were celebrating in the streets after this election. And his radical regime now has a moderate, democratically elected president to cloak his own extremism and paranoia.But Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains very much in command. Indeed, this election may have solidified his reign: rather than protesting against him as they did in such massive numbers four years ago, the people were celebrating in the streets after this election. And his radical regime now has a moderate, democratically elected president to cloak his own extremism and paranoia.”
- I have a piece on Foreign Affairs.com, “Why Rouhani Won— And Why Khamenei Let Him”, expanding on some of my immediate reactions to the Rouhani victory. In particular, I think there is a strong case to be made that this was not a out-of-the-blue upset, but rather the product of a deliberately orchestrated effort to empower a moderate specifically in order to redirect the regime from its current frustratingly ineffective nuclear diplomacy.
- Finally, I will be testifying on the implications of the elections for Iran and for the United States, before at a hearing called by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, along with Alireza Nader of RAND Corporation and Karim Sajdadpour from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The hearing takes place on Tuesday, June 18, at 10:30am. Watch streaming video of the hearing on the Subcommittee’s website.